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Ohio University forward Andrew Sacca (18) leans against the glass after scoring during the second period of the Bobcats' home game against Drexel University on Jan. 20, 2023 in Bird Ice Arena.

Hockey: Penalty trouble plagues Ohio's victory against Illinois

Ohio started its series against Illinois off on the right foot with a 4-2 victory and its fifth win in a row. The victory did not come without struggle though, as Ohio was once again plagued by a lack of cohesion and determination — as well as an excess of penalty minutes.

“I think that it was very similar to last weekend,” said coach Lionel Mauron. “We need to fix that part of our game, but it's also part of growing as a team, and hopefully that helps us down the line.”

The Bobcats came into the first period with the determination they lacked in last weekend’s games. Team captain, Sam Turner, got the action started when he smacked one into the goal just three minutes in.

“We came out with a pretty disciplined, structured energy and started the game really well,” said Mauron.

Power play opportunities lent the Bobcats a hand in the first period. Their next two goals following Turner’s were scored on the power play, which lead the Bobcats to a 66% power play efficiency. Luc Reeve, the American Collegiate Hockey League’s leading scorer, brought the score to 2-0 after he slapped the puck past the Illinois goalie. Hollander Thompson followed suit just over a minute later and the Bobcats completely shut out the Illini in the first period.

That didn’t last for long; however, as early in the second period Illinois was able to get on the board for the first time. Illinois soon scored another goal and closed in on Ohio, bringing the score to 3-2. Ohio lost defensive traction after that and things went downhill fast. The lack of defense coupled with four separate penalties, including a five-minute major on Ryan Hastings, allowed Illinois to take over from an offensive standpoint.

“We only played nine minutes of five-on-five (that period). I think that killed our rhythm, and it's hard to play against a team that builds a lot of belief,” said Mauron.

Tensions were high heading into the third period; just one goal separated the Bobcats and the Illini. It was a defensive battle for the majority of the time and Ohio fought to keep the puck away from the house. However, Christian Albertson soon put the Bobcats ahead and secured them a 4-2 victory.

As they head into playoff season, the Bobcats will need to continue to work on cohesion. To do that, they’re placing an emphasis on teamwork.

“Teamwork is the most important thing. It's just hard when we take penalties because some guys don’t get a lot of ice time and then it’s hard to be in the rhythm and it kind of kills the vibe. We are just going to stay out of the box and then it will be a lot easier,” Mauron said.


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